Friday, January 29, 2010

Before the Devil Knows You are Dead, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Sidney Lumet of Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and many more directed this film. It was clearly about the family dynamic and the brothers' dynamic and the place of each brother in the family with the sister being a perepheral figure. And it was about psychology of it all. I knew that before I watched the commentary track Lumet and cast and producers discuss the changes Sidney made to the original screenplay. His idea to make them brothers instead of colleagues at work was a master stroke. Lumet emphasize the melodrama of it. The story is a tragedy on a grand scale and one of those things which occasionally happens in real life and make the headlines. But are not that uncommon, certainly there are plenty of murder shows on TV
Lumet took the story and turned it into his story of a family melodrama. Not a suspense crime thriller altho. that was what the original story called for.
Andy goes psycho and kills a bunch of people. Both brothers have complete mental breakdowns. Who could live after such a thing happened? Their life spirals downhill in a spectacular way, taking people with them.. And It works because of the performances and a master storyteller in Lumet. The over-the top Andy is restrained through most of the film and then just blows it. Done by PSHit is completely convincing and restrained. Would have to ask PSH if he gained weight for the role.
Lumet picks all the right camera angles. I guess we would have to credit the DP for this. For example: Andy comes home and doesn't see Gina for several seconds, but we see her head and her POV but it's not exactly from her POV. That is a great example.
PSH shows us acting range in this character: We see him barely hanging on to a demeanor of social civility. His at work life is "increasingly strange." Andy snorts heroin right before a meeting, and then spaces out at the meeting. Increasingly strange behavior at work is how we would classify it. LOL sorry for the LOL I had to convey it someway.
This character's arc is that by the end of the film he has committed a massacre along with the crime of robbery. The scene with the heroin dealer's death is brutal and visually stunning with the whole setting of the apt. its furnishings and the character himself.
PSH is key in this scene and held the whole film together. His is the performance that stands out.
What is the usage of the title cards in this film? Structure? Is this how it is structured? The way the title cards are introduced is a visual movement of images. A way of story telling. The Title cards are a way of story telling.

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